The Greater Marco Family YMCA and Family Church’s Our Daily Bread Food Pantry link to present ‘Lunch, Fun & Fellowship’ monthly

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It started as a notion between two community-minded entities, and now – two months later – it’s a solid fixture on the Marco Island calendar.

Each third Thursday of the month, the Greater Marco Family YMCA’s “Togetherhood” program links with the Family Church’s “Our Daily Bread Food Pantry” to present a free social luncheon and group activities for seniors “60 and better.”

It’s called Lunch, Fun & Fellowship, but besides being just that, the motivation behind it has deep significance.

With their life palettes now so broad with experiences – both good and bad – it’s probable that some of the people who enjoyed the first two Lunch, Fun & Fellowships had their own poignant reasons for joining in.

“Needs can be defined in different ways,” said Cindy Love, who is CEO of the Y. “Some people might not feel good about not getting out; some might not have (good) financial means, and there are people who are not eating well.

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“We’re the conduit, the convener of bringing people together. As you get older, you might be not so sure what your identity is any more, and if people care. Then we drill down how important it is to stay socially active and have a place to belong,” Love said.

Fairly recently widowed Pat Carr would attest to that. She’s attended both luncheons so far.

“It gets me out of the house,” Carr said. “It’s good meeting different people. I met some women here and we went to dinner with them later.”

Carr said she enjoyed mild exercise sessions after the meals, the second of which was presented by Y Healthy Living Director (and dynamo) Deborah Passero.

She had the entire group of about 50 mostly women (men, you’re welcome too) stretching and bending in a technique called WholyFit. Poses coincide with the reciting of the scriptural words: Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

Nancy Kot is volunteer coordinator for The Food Pantry, and put the luncheon series together with the Y’s tireless volunteer Allyson Richards.

“After the first one, I got some phone messages that were so touching, I kept them,” Kot said. “Now, if I’m ever having a bad day, I listen to them.”

One was from a woman who said she had health issues, and needed to be distracted.

The Y’s Togetherhood program fits perfectly with the luncheon and activities series, CEO Love said.

“It’s a national Y program,” she said, “and each Y tweaks it to their needs. We bring people together for the common good in a positive manner. Under the Y strategic plan, you’re going to see a lot more of bringing the community together.”

Restaurants (so far The Crazy Flamingo and Nacho Mama’s) have stepped up with gratis contributions of meals, while Gorman’s Auto Service Center weighed in with a welcome sponsorship.

People 60 and better who’d like to participate, can sign up at the marcoymca.org website. One more will be held at the Family Church (with the food blessed graciously by Pastor Casey Nowlin), and three after that at the Y.

For more information on the Y’s wide variety of programs and activities for youth as well as adults, visit the above website, or call 394-YMCA (9622).

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